With six games left in the regular season and a record of 33-5-4, you'd think the Blackhawks would be ready to put it on cruise control until the playoffs.
But the Hawks don't even know the meaning of the words "let up." They're streaking again with 6 wins in a row and 8 victories in the last nine games (8-0-1).
The Hawks continue to play every game like it matters, because to them it does, what with the Western Conference still to win, not to mention the President's Trophy for best record in the NHL and Jennings Trophy that goes to the team with the lowest goals-against average.
"It's just the heart we have," Hawks center Andrew Shaw said. "We want to win every game we play. The feeling of winning is unbelievable, and no one wants to lose."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville continues to roll out his four forward lines seemingly without even caring about matchups. That's how Dallas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan saw it Monday.
"They're just so solid from top to bottom," Gulutzan said. "A couple players asked me, 'Who are they matching against?' and I said, 'They're not. They're matching their D a little bit, but they're willing to pull out anybody there at any given time.'
"That just goes to show the trust the coach has in their group and the depth they have."
Jonathan Toews believes the Hawks still are improving with an eye to the playoffs.
"Maybe you take a few steps back in some parts of your game and a few steps forward in others, so you try to focus on those little details of things you don't do so well every game," Toews said.
"I think we're very conscious of those little things as a team right now, and it just shows the maturity of every guy in this locker room that we're never satisfied and we don't care where we are, at home or on the road, that we just keep working and we keep playing as a team.
"Some guys maybe don't play as much, but the next time they get the chance they're going out there and doing what they have to for this team to win. It shows that guys care about our team and where we're going into the playoffs here."
The hunger to win still is there every single night.
"We're just playing solid hockey," Toews said. "I think we're hungry to play every single night. We'd rather be winning than coming up on the short end."
Quenneville may still tinker with a few things these last six games, maybe try to find a spot for newly signed Hobey Baker award winner Drew LeBlanc to play. But it won't be anything drastic.
"I don't think we should be content; we should still be pushing to get better," Quenneville said. "Everybody should keep each other accountable and look to try and improve to the end of the year.
"Incentive-wise, we're still finding a way to compete at a high level."
Goalies Corey Crawford and Ray Emery continue to push each other to be better as well.
"The one thing that's been there is the consistency and contribution we're getting from our goalies, and it's really put us in a good spot," Quenneville said.
"That's one of the reasons we've been successful this year. No matter who's been in there, game in and game out, they've given us a chance to get points.
"We don't chance the way we play in front of the goaltender. It's nice having a 1-2, or 1A and 1AA, that's kind of the way it is. Both guys deserve a lot of credit for how they've played and how they've handled the situation."
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